VIDEO: B-Side Blog Visits Elite Restaurant for KCET’s ‘Free Lunch’ Series

Local independent TV station KCET has recently launched a web series titled Free Lunch, which treats commenters on to — you guessed it — a free lunch in the area. I was lucky enough to participate in the series, and since my ol’ college friend Leah was in town, I invited her to join me for a wonderful meal at Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park, CA.

Elite specializes in delicious dim sum, and since Leah had never tried dim sum before, the experience was especially exciting for her. Needless to say, we ate like kings and left quite full.

Check out our video above…



With the premiere of Big Brother last night, I wanted to cook myself a dinner that would honor the show in some way. I ultimately settled on a much lauded dish from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan cookbook Land of Plenty. The recipe in question: Ma Po Do Fu, or Mapo Tofu as it’s commonly known in restaurants in America. Many reviews of Land of Plenty have singled out Dunlop’s Mapo Tofu recipe as one of the strongest in the book, and for several months, I had been meaning to try it. Well, this was the perfect opportunity. After all, Dunlop’s version is translated as “Pockmarked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd.” There could be no greater tribute to The Chenbot than to whip up a dish with the name “Mother Chen” in it (although, I do not believe than Julie is pockmarked like the Mother Chen of note here).

After the jump, see the fun and at times dangerous process that went in to making Mother Chen’s bean curd.

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MORNING WHATNOT: USC Students Have Sex On The Roof; Also, RuPaul, Dim Sum, and Kid Cudi’s Littlest Fan

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: This Sandwich Actually Works


Back in junior year of high school, my friend Nicole once brought a most bizarre sandwich into History class. It was some concoction her mom had made, and it was so bizarre that I just had to take a bite. Much to my surprise (and to Nicole’s), the sandwich was actually really, really good. For years it had stuck with me, and recently I decided that I had to try it out once more. After all, sometimes you get to an age, and you wonder if that fond memory is really as reliable as you think. Could my mind have been playing tricks on me? Was this sandwich actually any good?

Well, fifteen years later, it was time to give Nicole’s sandwich a whirl. I don’t know why I hadn’t already. I think it was a case of me never having all the main ingredients at the same time. And just what was in this sandwich? You’ll have to read to find out… Continue reading

Ep. 13: Banter With Ben and Lisa

We’re baaaaaack. After a two month hiatus, Lisa and I have convened once again to podcast, and this time around, the fun took place in my kitchen. Yes, while I made a dish for a dinner party, Lisa and I bantered away, discussing everything from vampires to zombies to Jersey Shore to German vocab. We’re pledging to podcast more frequently, and with any luck, we’ll actually follow through!

After the jump, check out the recipe that I used during the podcast, and remember, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free! Click here.


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About a year ago, I stumbled upon Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan cook book Land of Plenty on some blog out there on the Interwebs. I was intrigued by whatever the dish was and did further research. It turns out the British-born Dunlop spent extensive time in the Sichuan province of China studying the local foods and flavors, even going so far as to attend the culinary school there — a first, I believe for a Westerner. The more I read about Dunlop and Land of Plenty, the more fascinated I became by Sichuan cuisine. It was totally foreign to me, and soon I wanted nothing more than to attempt it myself and see what all the fuss was about. I finally purchased the cookbook, and after a week of browsing through the pages and reading the extensive and well-written introductory pages (about eighty in total), I was ready to take the plunge. I headed to the Chinese supermarket, purchased all the key Sichuan staples (a process unto itself), and returned home ready to cook.

But what to start with? There were so many options. I definitely was not going to do anything that was deep-fried as I’m afraid of oil explosions, but aside from that, I had no real limits. Finally, I decided upon an imposing dish called “Boiled Beef Slices in A Fiery Sauce.” Dunlop writes that it’s “sensationally hot” and that “it’s not for the fainthearted, but if you have a taste for spciy food, it’s fabulous.” Sounded perfect for an Adventure in Domesticity…

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